JERUSALEM - Israeli chief of staff Lieutenant General Gadi Eisenkot has warned the army has been given authorisation to open fire ahead of mass protests on the Gaza border planned for Friday.
Eisenkot said reinforcements, including special forces snipers, had been deployed to the border to counter what he said was the most serious risk of conflict since he took up his post in 2015.
A series of incidents in recent days, including two infiltrations, one by three armed Palestinians who penetrated some 20 kilometres (12 miles) inside Israel , has already sent tensions soaring on the volatile frontier.
Friday’s mass rallies near the border fence mark the start of more than six weeks of planned protests leading up to the inauguration of the new US embassy in Jerusalem around May 14.
US President Donald Trump’s recognition of the disputed city as Israel’s capital in December has infuriated Palestinians who claim its annexed eastern sector as the capital of their future state.
Gazans are being urged to set up a string of protest camps along the Israeli border, each some 100 metres (yards) from the security fence, and the army is braced for attempts to break through.
“We won’t allow mass infiltration into Israel and to damage the fence, and certainly not to reach the communities,” Eisenkot told the mass-circulation Yediot Aharonot newspaper. - APP/AFP